South Wight Borough Council on the Isle of Wight was determined not to allow the good name of Sandown Bay to be damaged. A proposal was put before its policy and resources committee to exert pressure on Heinz to withdraw the survey, which was published last week by the Marine Conservation Society.
But Anne Cardew, the deputy mayor, abstained from the vote, saying afterwards that her daughter had come across 'toilet paper and the like' while bathing off the bay last year.
'I don't want to make life harder for hoteliers and shopkeepers, but it is high time we got our act together and disposed of our sewage properly on land rather than pumping it out into the sea,' she said.
David Jagger, the council's chief executive, maintained that Sandown Bay met strict EC standards on bathing water quality: 'Councillors were completely taken aback at what she was saying, given that we had 21 samples last year and only one failure.' He added that he was consulting other disgruntled resorts, including Eastbourne and Bournemouth, on how best to secure redress.
Cait Loretto, a marine science officer at the society and joint editor of the guide, said: 'If a beach fails (the EC's bathing water quality standard) on one sample across the bathing season, we cannot recommend it. We cannot withdraw the guide. I don't think it would be feasible - there's been a print run of 4,500. We stand 100 per cent by the Good Beach Guide.'
Meanwhile, Jersey Tourism faces criticism today from the Advertising Standards Authority for exaggerating claims about spotless beaches and clear blue waters. In a national press advertisement, the organisation had boasted: 'Our sandy beaches are always spotless (and) all of our golden beaches are scrubbed and rinsed twice by clear blue water.'
The authority has upheld complaints from members of the public, ruling: 'The complainants questioned the claims, as on seven recent occasions large quantities of untreated sewage had poured onto bathing beaches. The authority requested the advertisers to remove the exaggerated impression that their beaches were always 100 per cent spotless by being rinsed by clear blue water.'